The Vernon Vipers have 10 days and two exhibition games to get down to a 23-man squad.
Released from their training camp roster after last weekend’s B.C. Hockey League exhibition series with the Trail Smoke Eaters are: netminder Zach Station, defencemen Zach McLellan, Logan Hawgood and Taylor Egan, and forwards Brady Fuller, CJ Lillies, Sean Alldridge, Rylie Gallagher, Marley Keca and Jake Wensley, who left camp early due to injury.
That leaves the Vipers with 16 forwards, nine d-men and three goalies, meaning Vipers’ head coach/GM Mark Ferner will have five more cuts to make before their regular-season opener Friday, Sept. 10 against the Salmon Arm SilverBacks at Wesbild Centre. The two teams tangle in an exhibition home-and-home series this weekend – Friday night at Wesbild, and Saturday at the Sunwave Centre.
After hammering Trail 4-0 Friday night, Vernon made it two straight over the Smokies, salvaging a 4-3 win Saturday night in Chase.
“It was a sloppy game to say the least,” said Vipers’ assistant coach Jason Williamson.
“We haven’t taught systems or anything like that. We kind of throw them out there and let them play and let them be creative and maybe see some chemistry with some guys.
“It’s mainly work ethic and compete levels, and overall we’ve been pretty impressed so far. There’s a good foundation there.”
Trailing 3-1 early in the second period, Vernon equalized later in the frame on goals by Gus Correale and Marcus Basara, on a breakaway for his second of the night.
Forward Kyle Murphy, a Fairhaven, N.J. product who played last season with the NCAA Notre Dame Fighting Irish, charged out from the corner to bang home the winner in the third period.
Assists went to John Knisley, Tanner Cochrane, Lilies and Correale, a Prince George product with loads of Vernon relations.
Blake Voth allowed all three Smoke Eater goals before Station took over in the second half.
Viper d-man Bennett Hambrook fought Trail’s Joey Baker.
Veterans Adam Thompson, Bryce Kakoske, Dave Robinson and Stevie Weinstein have yet to play in exhibition.
Meanwhile, the Vipers have also acquired defenceman Elliott Richardson from the Central Canadian Hockey League Lindsay Muskies in exchange for future considerations.
The 1991-born Hanmer, Ont. native recorded seven goals for 31 points in the 2008-09 season, but missed all but five games (1-4-5) last season due to injury. He earned an invite to the World Junior A Challenge Canada East team tryouts before he was sidelined.